Antibiotic Research UK, the world’s first charity tackling antibiotic resistance welcomes the declaration by 80 firms and pharmaceutical giants on the need to tackle antibiotic resistance. The declaration is being launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos and calls on governments and industry around the world to work together to tackle the rise in so-called superbugs. Clearly this is a major step forward says Professor Colin Garner, the Charity’s Chief Executive. However it will be many years before any real progress can be made since it takes 15-20 years to develop a new drug and costs £100’s of millions. On the other hand, the problem of antibiotic resistance is here and now and getting worse. We have been far too cavalier in the use of the precious antibiotics we have and we need as a matter of urgency to see a dramatic reduction in antibiotic prescribing. We need to convert fine words into an action plan at a global, regional, national and local level. At the moment too many different bodies are making proposals which are fine but these require real money to be found which at present is lacking. We need to draw lessons from how we tackled infectious diseases such as HIV / AIDS where concerted efforts by the pharmaceutical industry, national governments and the WHO all came together to find new drugs. However the original AIDS drugs were unaffordable for those infected in the developing world in particular. It will be interesting to see how the pharmaceutical industry deals with public need and their desire to make a profit.
This is where charities such as Antibiotic Research UK can step in since they have no need to make a financial return and can put patients before profit. It is surprising in the Press Release about the Joint Declaration that no mention was made of the charity sector playing a role but simply governments and industry. Some of the major medical research charities such as the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust are spending significant funds on infectious disease research. We need to include the charity sector as well as government and the pharmaceutical industry to tackle this most pressing of medical problems.
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